The fortunate evening of March 29, 1969 will always be fresh in my mind. On that day, for the first time, I had the darshan of my Guru Acharya Rajneesh. At that time I was an engineering student in Patna University. I used to go to the Sinha library to study. The library had a collection of very rare books. I used to go there regularly to study religion, philosophy and astrology. After leaving the library in the middle of the day, I saw a pamphlet hanging on the notice board in which it was informed that Acharya Rajneesh would give a lecture on the same day in the evening in the lawn of the same library. I had never heard this name before.
I have had a special interest in meditation, yoga, and naturopathy since my school life. Even though I did not find any Master at that time, I was practicing meditation and yoga with the help of books. I had visited almost all the Ashrams in North India and had met all the famous Gurus. I had also been initiated by many gurus . Some of these Gurus are – Anandamurtiji, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Usak Chand Thakur, Swami Shivanandaji of Rishikesh, Madhavraj Golworkar of Rashtriya Sevak Sangh, Sannyasis of Ramakrishna Ashram etc. All of them had their own characteristics and I definitely had the opportunity to learn something from them, but I waslacking my inner harmony and my soul was waiting for its guiding Guru.
During that time, there were two major organizations of students. One was the Student Federation influenced by left-wing ideas and the other was the National Student Council of the right-wing Jana Sangh. I was impressed by Madhavraj Sadashiv’s goal of worker’s scholarship and asceticism and for some years I also became the branch manager of Rashtriya Sevak Sangh. Later, the double character and hypocritical personality of the so-called sadhus in various ashrams was also creating disgust towards religion in me. There was a growing tendency towards socialist and left-wing thinking. I was greatly influenced by the social and cultural movements that were going on in India at that time. This movement was ‘Sarvodaya Movement’ influenced by the philosophy of Gandhi and Binoba. At the same time, Jayaprakash Narayan also left the active politics of the Samajwadi Party and joined Sarvodaya.
When I met Osho for the first time, I was in a state of great ambivalence and melancholy. I had not understood my path. Krishna’s devotion and celebration, Buddha’s peace and meditation, Vivekananda’s brilliance, and Gandhi’s truth and non-violence; I was searching for harmony among their philosophies. I used to cry that why I was not born during their lifetime, why did I not become their disciple?
Since childhood, I have been attracted to Sadhus, Saints and Yogis. That’s why on that lucky evening of 29th March, I went and sat in the first row to listen to the sermon with my classmate. At exactly 6 o’clock, a handsome young sadhu dressed in a white lungi and wrapped in a white chadar appeared on the stage. Acharya Rajneesh, in his thirties, with a long, lustrous beard and hair, an advanced forehead, and a compelling face, sat on a couch on the dais. His presence was intense and his personality had a wonderful charm. The first thing that struck me was his physical beauty and the brilliance of his personality. He appeared to have descended from the world of Rishis of lore. As the bhajans of Meera and Kabir were very dear to Acharyashree, a girl sang Kabir’s bhajans before his sermon. That evening of spring, the gentle cool breeze of the Ganges, those touching verses of Kabir, the melodious voice of the young lady, and even the mysterious, compelling presence of Acharyashree, all these touched my tender heart. Tears started pouring from my eyes. After wiping, the entire handkerchief got wet. My classmates were shocked and asked, “What happened to you?” Why are you crying like this?’ There was no answer that could be said in words. After the bhajan, the musical melodious voice of Acharyashree resounded, ‘Mere Priya Atman’. That magical voice broke the barrier of tears in my eyes again. I gave up and started crying. It was natural for my friend to be surprised, I myself was also surprised and thinking “why is the presence of this complete stranger making my heart cry like this?”
Acharyashree was harshly criticizing Brahmacharya, Gandhianism and religious leaders in his sermons which was completely against my teachings, studies and culture till date. My brain was disagreeing with his thoughts but deep down my heart was fully agreeing with his logic. An audience member asked, ‘Gandhi, being a saint, always traveled in third class in trains, but why do you travel in first class as a monk?’ Acharyashree replied, ‘Gandhi said there is no fourth class in Indian trains that is why he travels in third class. But I say I will travel in first class because Indian Railways has not yet introduced AC coaches. The day Indian Railways has AC coaches, I will stop traveling in first class from that day. I consider poverty to be a great disease born from stupidity and unscientific thinking. Today, with the help of science and technology, the whole of Europe and America are traveling in air-conditioners, so which one of us has committed such a grave sin and should always travel only in third class?’
Acharyashree was maintaining his views by giving such irrefutable arguments. Even those who disagreed with his views were amazed and overwhelmed by his logical analysis. There was no basis to refute his intellectual analysis and logic. All my theories and ideas were being destroyed by Osho’s one hour logical attack. Even though my mind was constantly protesting against his ideas, my innermost being was completely devoted to him. My innermost being was experiencing that I used to cry in solitude in search of Prajna Purusha and Guru, that person is Acharyash Rajneesh and that search found its destination. My mind was somewhere beyond the limits of time and space. Acharyashree ended his discourse with these words, ” There is no need to believe these things. Doubt on these things, think, meditate. Accept only what is good in the ground of this thought. In the end, I bow down to the Lord who sits within all of us. Accept my obeisance.’
As soon as Acharyashree’s discourse was over, he was surrounded by a crowd of people touching his feet and hugging him. I couldn’t muster the courage to enter that crowd. In a nearby stall, the annual subscribers of Uvramanta, a Hindi magazine based on Acharya’s ideas, were being made. The annual membership fee was Rs. 6 rupees semi-annually. I had only 3 rupees in my pocket. I asked the volunteer to make me a quarterly customer. But because there is no provision for quarterly customers, he said. I asked him to make me an annual customer for these 3 rupees. ‘I will send you 9 rupees to Jabalpur by money order.’ He believed me and handed over the first issue of Yukrand to me along with the annual membership written for 12 rupees. It was considered to be the wisest and best investment of my life. Which not only changed my entire life, it became the reason for the transformation of the lives of thousands of other seekers.
After some time, it was announced from the platform that Acharyashree would deliver a discourse on Lord Mahavira in a meeting organized by the Jain Society at Rabindra Bhavan. After that, he would return to Jabalpur directly through Tufan Mail at night.
After listening to him, I decided to go to Rabindra Bhawan. Acharyashree drove to Ravindra Bhavan in his Ambassador car. Since I had no money, I ran the distance of about 4 km. Acharyashree’s sermons at that time were very fiery and he used to strike hard against blind devotion and superstition. Accordingly, he was deeply criticizing the Jains for their blind devotion without understanding Mahavira. The organizers were all Jains. They were regretting calling Acharyashree for the sermon. The more Acharyashree criticized, the more anxious they became, but all the listeners were mesmerized. I was afraid that there would be no rudeness towards Acharyashree. But Jains are non-violent and tolerant. Acharyashree’s discourse got over. He went back to the train station. Although I wanted to go to the station to see him off, I had neither the money nor the strength to run behind the car. I slowly covered the distance of 5 km to my residence with the joy and happiness of love at first sight.